The Squamish River Watershed Society put on another successful outreach program for elementary school students in the Squamish area this May! The event consisted of 4 stations in total where approximately 500 students participated over 6 days. BC Wildlife Federation Wetlands Education Program hosted a station for the forth year in a row. The first station was called “Me and Tree”; at this station the students learned how to identify trees by sight, smell, taste, and touch. Our station was the second, called “More than a puddle – the Magic of ephemeral wetlands”. The third station was called “Save the frogs, save the world!”; where the students gained an in depth understanding of the amphibians that lived in Squamish, and the hardships they go through to fulfill their life-cycle. The forth station was called “Bioblitz”; this was the station where the students discovered and recorded all the life that could be present in a forest. But back to our station!
The BCWF Wetlands Education Program team introduced the students to the basics of ephemeral wetlands via an interactive presentation and a pond dipping activity. Ephemeral wetlands are wetlands that dry up yearly usually in the summer and fill back up during the rainy season. Groups of 12-15 enthusiastic students came by to learn about how vital ephemeral wetlands are to the ecosystem, the environment, and to people. Our main wildlife focus was on the aquatic invertebrates that live in our wetlands.
We were incredibly lucky as our station sat right next to an ephemeral wetland!
But also incredibly unlucky due to the warm weather; the wetland is drying up early this year and was reduced to two small puddles. This didn’t change the fact that the not-so-wet wetland was still teeming with life! The students unfortunately had to keep out of the wetland as it was frog breeding season. We didn’t want them to romp through the wetland only to hear the unfortunate “squish” of our frog friends.
The day started with our leaders dipping in the wetland to round up some critters into a big bin for the students to discover. When the kids arrived, we had a quick, yet informative discussion which warmed them up.
The students learned:
- The main components of a wetland: water, soil and plants.
- The difference between ephemeral and permanent wetlands
- The reasons behind why wetlands are valuable habitat
- The different types of animals that use wetlands
- The importance of wetlands to forests and vice versa
- The ways we can help to protect wetlands
All the students were super enthused about the wetland, so they were itching to experience the wetland for themselves. The second part of our station allowed them to do a hands-on pond dip
The students chomping at the bit to try a pond dip in our bin full of critters, and the kids were thrilled to get their hands dirty. The leaders divided the students into small groups, and each group was given a small container (to carry their critters) as well as a spoon for closer inspection. Each group took their time using dipping nets to round up some aquatic invertebrates to investigate. The air was filled with the collective “oohs” and “ahhs” as the students discovered all their netted specimens, they were also given a magnifying glass and an invertebrate identification key so that they were able to identify what they caught. The students enjoyed this portion the most!
It seemed that the wetland luck was on our side as we found a variety of aquatic invertebrates for the students to capture and inspect. These included: caddisfly larva, predaceous diving beetles and their larva, phantom midges, riffle beetles, water boatmen and aquatic worms! We also had the great pleasure of showing the students egg masses of Northwestern Salamander and Red-legged frogs. The kids were overjoyed when we let them touch and carry the goopy salamander egg mass.
All in all, we can chalk this outreach up as a success. The students had a lot of fun, and a lot of them came up to our leaders to express their interest and thanks. To be able to impart some of our knowledge and experience was definitely a plus, knowing that the children now appreciate the importance of the wetland and all the life it holds. The pond dip allowed them to immerse themselves in the wetlands first hand, and allowed them to fully understand just how many lives depend on a healthy wetland.
These projects were undertaken with the financial support of:
Ces projets ont été réalisé avec l’appui financier de:
Since 1985, Wildlife Habitat Canada, a national, non-profit, charitable conservation organization, has invested over $60 million to support hundreds of conservation projects on private and public lands across Canada, through its granting program. Wildlife Habitat Canada works through partnerships with communities, landowners, governments, non-government organizations, and industry to conserve, enhance, and restore wildlife habitat. To learn more about the projects that Wildlife Habitat Canada has funded or to see our annual report, please visit www.whc.org. Without habitat…there is no wildlife. It’s that simple!